Category: PASS General
My flights for PASS Summit 2012 are booked and I can’t wait to catch up with and extend my SQL family! There’s so much going at PASS Summit , it’s hard to know where to start. By now you’re all aware of the awesome technical content and pre-conference sessions available but what about some of the other great learning opportunities, the networking and plain old fun that’s always on tap at Summit?
Community Appreciation Party
PASS exists because of the huge groundswell of support and sheer hard work of the SQL community and we’d like to say thank you. On Thursday, Nov 8, all Summit attendees are invited to the Experience Music Project (EMP) for a light dinner, drinks, laughs, and music. At EMP, everyone can be a rockstar - cheer on your Summit friends as they belt out tunes backed by a live band or enjoy your own moment of fame with EMP’s rock star simulation. A Seattle landmark, the EMP is a cutting edge pop culture museum with rock ‘n’ roll roots.
Connect at PASS Summit
You’ll have ample time to catch up with old friends and make new ones at PASS Summit. From the First-Timers’ Orientation to the Welcome Reception, Exhibitor Reception, and interactive luncheons, PASS will make it easy for you to stay connected and network with other attendees. There will also be many informal after-hours activities taking place throughout the week – before, during, and after the official Summit schedule.
The PASS Summit session schedule (PDF) was recently published and you’ve got over 190 technical sessions to choose from over the span of 3 days. This can be overwhelming, I know. To help you out, PASS has put together a series of Expert Picks - lists of recommended sessions from the different perspectives of community experts and PASS Virtual Chapters. There is even a DBA 101 list and a DBA Masters’ list is in the works. Check it out, it’s worth your time.
Convince Your Boss
It goes without question that PASS Summit is the biggest and best SQL Server conference going. For those of you who haven’t yet signed up to attend, you need to convince your boss to send you. PASS has put together some information on who should attend, posted testimonials from past attendees, and created a handy value table to help you justify your attendance.
And If you can’t Convince your Boss…
We’ll bring Summit to you! We’re launching PASSTV this year – 12 hours of livestreamed content that will repeat during the evening so that every single SQL Server professional around the world can join in andbe a part of this great experience we call PASS Summit. Stay tuned for more details in the upcoming weeks.
See you Seattle!
Last week, the PASS Board of Directors ratified the official slate for the 2012 Board of Directors General Election. It’s my pleasure to announce the candidates for three Board seats up for election, listed in the order of their Nomination Committee (NomCom) ranking:
• James Rowland-Jones
• Sri Sridharan
• Allen Kinsel
• Wendy Pastrick
• Kendal Van Dyke
The NomCom began evaluating applicants for the PASS Board in August, carefully reviewing each application and interviewing each applicant. Now, it’s up to the community to decide who will fill three 2-year terms on the PASS Board.
As PASS’s Immediate Past President, I can tell you that it takes a lot to be effective on the PASS Board. And as Chair of the NomCom, I can tell you that all the candidates have valuable leadership experience and are “PASSionate” people. To decide which candidates you want to lead your organization, especially as PASS continues its rapid growth, it is important to research and evaluate each candidate. You can learn more about each candidate on the 2012 Elections’ Candidates page.
The elections forums and campaigning are open now, and voting will take place September 28 to October 12. If you were a PASS member before June 1, 2012, you are eligible to vote and will receive a ballot by email. The top three vote getters will be elected and will begin their terms January 1, 2013.
I encourage you to have your say – both in the elections forums, where candidates will be replying to your questions, and by voting. Good luck to all the candidates, and happy voting everyone!
Immediate Past President/NomCom Chair
In IT, if you’re not moving forward, you’re falling behind. And whether you’re seeking a career change or to strengthen your current position and value, the PASS Professional Development Virtual Chapter is there to help you take that next step.
“Our mission is to provide tools, advice, encouragement, and insight for technology professionals at all levels to ‘take the next step’ in their career,” explains VC leader Mark Caldwell. “We provide free LiveMeeting presentations each month on topics related to our mission. We also have an active blog that features great interviews with SQL professionals, book reviews, and other related commentary – much of it provided by Kathi Kellenberger.”
The VC, initially formed in the Fall of 2009, got rolling with regular webcasts in 2010. Live attendance at the webcasts has grown from seven in the early days to 49 as recently as last week. However, with nearly 4,000 PASS members having registered an interest in the VC’s happenings, many more may be watching the session recordings on-demand, Mark notes.
As a resource for information and conversation on professional development for people in the technology industry, the VC has covered everything from professional networking, effective meetings, and managing teams to consulting tips, communication skills, career advice for turbulent times, and much more. In June, a panel of PASS Board members talked about thinking strategically and shared lessons they’ve learned from serving on the organization’s leadership team. “We also recently expanded our scope to include topics on technology management with the help of Kevin Kline,” Mark adds.
If you missed the VC’s September meeting with Brian Moran on “The Art of Questions – How Can IT Pros Be More Successful?” you can listen to the recording and read Mark’s blog post inspired by the session. Next up is Joe Webb presenting on “Effective Delegation Techniques” Oct. 10.
To make sure you receive meeting reminders from the VC, simply include the Professional Development VC on your My Chapters list on the PASS website. If you’re interested in speaking or volunteering, the VC would love to hear from you – contact Mark today.
After visiting nine straight US-based SQLSaturdays, I kicked off a three-country tour of international SQLSaturdays August 25, starting with SQLSaturday #145 in Recife, Brazil.
Brazil had already hosted two very successful SQLSaturdays: #100 in São Paulo last November and #127 in Rio de Janeiro in April. Both cities have strong existing user groups, so there wasn’t much risk in supporting SQLSaturdays in those locations. For the most part, SQLSaturdays are led by existing PASS Chapter Leaders, but on a few occasions, some of these events have been part of “planting the seed” efforts to try and establish new user groups in areas that don’t already have one, Recife falls into this category, with the nearest PASS Chapter about 90 minutes away.
The lead organizer for the Recife event was Fabio Avila, who I met at the after party during SQLSaturday São Paulo. He really enjoyed the event and asked a lot of questions about putting on a SQLSaturday, but he seemed skeptical about one in his area as this was the first of this type of event for Brazil. Then along came the Rio event and the recognition that SQLSaturdays were gaining more interest in Brazil. Just before the Rio event, Fabio contacted me ready to bring some SQL Server training to the northeast region.
There are many technical events in Brazil each year, but SQLSaturdays seem to be filling some voids for this country, providing more SQL Server-focused training and another avenue for the many SQL Server MVPs and other SQL experts in Brazil to share what they know. It was great to see at the Recife event a number of the speakers who I had the pleasure of meeting in São Paulo. And even though they knew it would be a much smaller event, they were happy to have made the long trip to present at it.
The mission for me onsite was to see if I could find that “hidden gem” in the crowd - someone so excited about SQL Server and the community that they want to help continue the effort by starting a local user group. Normally, I don’t find this task very difficult; passionate and excited DBAs are pretty easy to find, especially at a SQLSaturday. However, I wasn’t prepared for the gaping language barrier. In larger cities such as São Paulo, plenty of people speak English, and naïve me, I thought it would be no different in Recife. I was wrong, as I discovered the minute I checked into the hotel. For the most part, the only people I could converse with event day were those speakers I had met before, Fabio and one or two of his volunteers, and Denny Cherry [b|t], who was there to do a pre-con.
Although I left a bit discouraged, I haven’t given up. I’ve since had a conference call with some of the MVPs in Brazil, and they are on board with helping start PASS Chapters in parts of Brazil that don’t already have a SQL Server user group. Thanks to them and others in the SQL community, the sowing will continue.
Next stop for me, Cambridge for the first-ever SQLSaturday in the UK. Stay tuned!
I still remember the buzz in air and the renewed passion for SQL that came from my first PASS SQLSaturday. Unaware there was a community full of other database professionals just like me, my eyes were opened wide as I sat in sessions and talked with other attendees and sponsors. Not only did I learn new things and meet new people but I went home eagerly anticipating the next user group meeting and the next PASS SQLSaturday. I think it’s safe to say I’m not alone - week after week, year after year, that experience has been repeated tens of thousands of times.
PASS SQLSaturday has gained unstoppable momentum and fiscal year 2012, which ended June 30, saw the biggest year ever for PASS SQLSaturday. The following comparison between 2011 and 2012 shows just how much PASS SQLSaturday has grown:
There are a lot of things to feel good about in those numbers! Read in between the lines and you’ll also find the speakers that had their first experience presenting, the leaders who organized their first community event, and the attendees who had their first introduction to PASS. These are the people we’ll see at future chapter meetings, in the halls and on the stage at the Summit, and serving as Regional Mentors and Directors. As PASS SQLSaturday grows and goes, so does PASS.
On that note, while the majority of PASS SQLSaturdays have been based in the US, the 450% increase in non-US events in just one year serves as a reminder that there are a lot of people we still haven’t reached yet. Shanghai (China), Curacao, Sydney (Australia), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Istanbul, Bangalore, and Dublin (to name just a few) all held their first PASS SQLSaturday in 2012. It wasn’t too long ago that our goal was to hold a PASS SQLSaturday in every state; now it’s time to think even bigger - just imagine where else in the world you’ll see a PASS SQLSaturday next!
I’d like to extend a thank you to all of the leaders, speakers, and volunteers who contributed to the success of PASS SQLSaturday during the last year. It takes a tremendous amount of time, effort, and hard work to make each event happen. I’d like to thank all of our sponsors for your support, without which there would be no PASS SQLSaturday. It’s a special feeling knowing that you have helped over 12,000 people connect, share, and learn with each other.
And of course I’d like to thank everyone who attended a PASS SQLSaturday in the last year. I hope that you enjoyed the experience, learned new things, made new friends, and were motivated to become even more active in the PASS community.
Looking Ahead to FY 2013
Although we’re 2 months into fiscal year 2013 there have already been 12 PASS SQLSaturdays, 26 more officially scheduled, and even more in the pre-planning stages. Current estimates suggest we’re in for at least 80 PASS SQLSaturdays this fiscal year, including first time events in Cambridge (UK), Munich, Lima, Bulgaria, and Pordenone (Italy) along with a host of others in the US.
Karla Landrum, PASS’s Community Evangelist, has done a tremendous job scouting out new locations and coaching event leaders but it’s become apparent that we need to add to the team if we want to reach that goal of at least 80 events in the next year. Last month we accepted applications for another Community Evangelist and received an incredibly enthusiastic response. We are currently in the interview process and expect to have our second Evangelist on board with PASS HQ in time for the annual Summit in November.
Finally, we’re continually focusing on how we can make the PASS SQLSaturday experience from the planning stages all the way through to the after party smoother for everyone. We’re always making improvements, but we also realize that the best ideas come from the PASS community. We welcome your suggestions and feedback – simply email them to firstname.lastname@example.org and they’ll get to the PASS SQLSaturday team at PASS HQ.
FY2012 was a breakout year for PASS SQLSaturday and I can’t help but be excited at the possibilities for what will come in 2013!
(Cross-posted from my personal blog; you can read the original here.)
I was talking at SQLSaturday #161 East Iowa with one of the newer PASS Chapter Leaders, Sheila Acker [t] of Quad Cities PASS, about ideas for growing more local speakers. I described a little program called SQLShot that we do in Orlando at the OPASS meetings. Sheila thought something similar could work for her group and that other Chapter Leaders might like to hear about it as well. Here’s what SQLShot is all about.
You know how during the networking time at user group meetings, you’ll often overhear one person sharing with another something they did at work that day that really helped their company or just made their day easier? Or maybe you hear the opposite conversations – a DBA talking about what a brute of a day they had trying to figure something out, and the other person sharing a technique or tool that might help. What these database pros probably don’t realize is that so many others in the room might also benefit from that knowledge.
This is when you, the Chapter leader, strike and ask the member if they’d consider doing a presentation on that very topic at an upcoming meeting. Of course, as most of us know, DBAs as a whole tend not to be that outgoing, and the thought of talking in front of an audience of their peers can be terrifying.
At OPASS – the Orlando user group started by Andy Warren [b|t] years ago and now led by Shawn McGehee [b|t] – we do what we call a SQLShot , a 10- to 15-minute presentation typically done by someone who has very little, if any, previous speaking experience.
Of course, you can ask during the opening announcements if anyone is interested in doing an upcoming SQLShot. But usually all you’ll hear is the crickets. That’s why it’s important to recognize opportunities like those mentioned above and reach out to specific members on topics you know they can talk about.
As your user group’s leader, you are also a mentor. Your members just need someone to encourage them, someone to eliminate the obstacles going up in their minds. Explain that a presentation on what they were just talking about could benefit others. Let them know it doesn’t have to be some super-polished PPT that they spend hours on, trying to think up (dare I say it) bullet points. Paint the picture; keep it simple. Let them know their presentation might involve just opening up SSMS, showing off the query they created, and describing what the problem was and how this code helped.
The typical rebuttal is, “That won’t even fill 10 minutes.” Tell them that’s fine. Because, just wait... once they are up there and start talking about their solution, before they know it, they’ve shared for 30 minutes. Database pros are excited about what they do, and that excitement usually starts pouring out about 2-3 minutes into the demo.
The next retort will be, “Everyone knows this already.” As we all know, even the most seasoned DBAs learn at least a thing or two in almost any session they attend. Remind your novice speaker that many of the audience members are beginners, and even if they’re not, they’re attending the meetings to learn from their peers’ experiences.
Now here’s a rebuttal I often hear from user group leaders: “I just can never get anyone local to present at our meetings.” I’m not so naïve to believe that all user group leaders are outgoing and can easily approach others and dare to “ask” someone to do something as bold as present. Times like these are YOUR chance to improve your leadership and mentoring skills.
If you’re reading this thinking “that’s me,” brace yourself. My recommendation is that YOU do the SQLShot for your next meeting! There are so many benefits to presenting the SQLShot yourself. You get to learn more about it yourself, mentor others what to do, and lead by example. Show them just how easy it is to do a brief demo. That will be all it takes to generate others to give it a shot.
The PASS Board of Directors recently approved adoption of an Anti-Harassment Policy for PASS Summit.
The policy states: "We are dedicated to providing a harassment-free conference experience for everyone, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, disability, religion, or any other protected classification." It outlines in general terms the type of behavior that is not acceptable and explains the steps that can be taken should someone engage in harassing behavior.
I had three reasons for drafting the policy and proposing its adoption:
- Other technical conferences have had incidents of harassment. Most of these did not have a policy in place prior to having a problem, though several conference organizers have since adopted anti-harassment policies or codes of conduct. I felt it would be in PASS's interest to establish a policy so we would be prepared should there be an incident.
- "This is Community" - Adopting a code of conduct would reinforce our community orientation and send a message about the positive character of PASS Summit.
- PASS is a leader among technical organizations for its promotion and support of women. Adopting a code of conduct would further demonstrate our leadership in this area.
PASS members pride themselves on being inclusive and ensuring that all attendees feel welcome at the Summit. From the many networking opportunities to the First Timers program to the #sqlpass conversations on Twitter, we encourage everyone to particpate fully in the conference. Having an anti-harassment policy is another way we ensure everyone feels welcome and safe at the Summit.
The Board had some thoughtful discussions as we worked through the details of the policy. I applaud the Board's willingness to take this step. I also want to thank PASS Governance Administrator Michelle Nalliah for all of her help in getting us through this process.
Twice a month, PASS’s DBA Virtual Chapter feeds an average 220 webinar attendees the essential information they need to grow into happy, healthy, productive SQL Server caretakers. On the menu next: “What on earth is a contained database?” with VC leader Sharon Dooley, today (August 22) at noon ET/16:00 GMT.
“Our mission has always been to provide an online PASS community for the database administrator,” Sharon says. “We provide a forum for open discussion and good information on issues that face SQL Server DBAs in their day-to-day jobs. Even if people cannot attend the regular meeting times, we make sure the recordings are available.”
The DBA VC began as what was then known as a PASS Special Interest Group (SIG) and was the first SIG to present an online event, using a Live Meeting site provided by one of its members. Its first Live Meeting event was in March 2007. Today, the VC hosts two events each month, on the second Wednesday at noon MT/18:00 GMT and the fourth Wednesday at noon ET/16:00 GMT. And it’s looking at scheduling additional meetings in other time zones as well to accommodate more international members' schedules.
The VC’s mailing list has over 13,000 names on it, with the last five meetings averaging 220 attendees. The secret to the group’s success? “The dedication of our volunteers, no doubt,” Sharon says.
The DBA VC leadership team consists of Julie Bloomquist, who makes sure the recordings are posted; Alex Buttery, who posts meeting announcements on the LinkedIn group; and Mike Clark, who facilitates most of the meetings (Julie fills in when Mike's not available). Sharon schedules the speakers, manages the website, and handles mailings.
Meeting presentations include slides, demos, and a time for questions and answers, with topics driven by the speakers, representing some of the most experienced DBAs in the world. The meetings are recorded and archived for on-demand viewing, usually within a week after the live meeting. Sharon says the group hopes to soon make the recordings available in downloadable format in addition to online viewing.
“We have also been fortunate to have sponsors that make it possible for us to have door prizes at our meetings,” Sharon notes. “This year, our sponsor is Quest, and we are grateful for their support.”
The VC is always looking for good speakers. “We pride ourselves on growing new speakers, too,” Sharon adds. “If you would like to speak, just send a brief abstract of your proposed topic to me at email@example.com.”
What a difference a day can make. I’m talking about a literal 24-hour time frame, starting September 20, when top SQL Server speakers from around the world will deliver free, live back-to-back webcasts straight to your computer on some of the hottest topics in the industry.
Registration is now open for 24 Hours of PASS – Summit 2012 Preview edition. With less than 3 months to go, content for PASS Summit is looking excellent, and the conference is shaping up to set records as the largest SQL Server event ever. To give you an early look at what you can expect, we’ve invited some of Summit 2012’s leading presenters to show off their stuff and help you decide which conference and pre-conference sessions to add to your schedule.
We invited all the Summit pre-con presenters to speak, along with half-day session presenters, anyone giving two spotlight sessions, and a selection of Microsoft speakers. The resulting 24HOP lineup is simply amazing. The event will feature pre-con presenters from around the world – including international all-stars Klaus Aschenbrenner, Davide Mauri, Rod Colledge, and Peter Myers, as well as American masters Denny Cherry, Louis Davidson, Allan Hirt, and Allen White. Half-day deep-dive experts such as Mark Tabladillo and Stacia Misner will be joining the show, along with spotlight heroes Andy Warren, Kevin Kline, and Erin Stellato. Throw in Microsoft greats like Michael Rys, Jen Underwood, and Cindy Gross, and I dare you to miss a minute.
So here’s what you do: Head over to the 24HOP registration page and check out the full schedule. Register for the sessions that speak most to your business needs, and then arrange with your boss to watch them with some of your colleagues. (Remember to emphasize that this is free, high-quality training.)
I encourage you to catch as many of the 24HOP sessions as you can. And with your appetite thoroughly whetted for some serious SQL learning come November, don’t forget to register for PASS Summit by September 30 to get $500 off the full rate.
After a much needed 6-week break in travel, my FY2013 adventures began at Sacramento’s very first SQLSaturday. Having lived there long ago, I was a little leary of Sacramento in the middle of summer, but was pleasantly surprised to arrive at record low temperatures in the 70s. It made for a beautiful weekend at what was a superbly run event!
Let’s start with the speaker dinner. More and more organizers are hosting the dinner at a home versus a restaurant. It makes for such a nice environment for conversation and for being able to move around and talk to everyone without being confined to a table. For SQLSaturday #144, one of the organizers, Will Meier [t], hosted the dinner and prepared all the good eats, featuring North Carolina-style BBQ right down to the slaw. Dinner entertainment was provided by another organizer, Angel Abundez [b|t], who sang and performed an amazing array of upbeat music via, of all things, a harp. Don’t believe me? Check out the unique treat here.
Onto event day and a quick look at what worked well and lessons learned. The event had to be moved from a local university to a hotel late in the game, which always makes me nervous because of costs involved with hotels. SQLSaturday budgets typically can’t afford such a venue, but the Courtyard Marriott gave the team a really good deal because they were in a crunch. The hotel provided the back lobby area for registration, which was one of the smoothest registrations I’ve seen for a first-time event.
Sacramento used SpeedPASS and never had a line waiting at check-in. The team did a great job the week before the event reminding registrants to pre-print and cut their SpeedPASS. In the first hour registration was open; only eight attendees hadn’t pre-printed their SpeedPASS. Lead organizers Eric Freeman [b|t] and Dan Hess [b|t] were pleasantly surprised, but the team was prepared for the worst case, having pre-printed and organized all the SpeedPASSes in advance. Now, they know they won’t have to go to the extra effort and cost at their next event.
The hotel provided four meeting rooms and the hallway in front of those rooms for the sponsors. It also catered a nice variety of box lunches, which included some of the best wraps I’ve ever eaten. However, although the event’s final head count was around 200, it did have an unexpected high dropout rate, so a lot of pre-ordered lunches based on registration numbers had to be donated.
The Sacramento event had a few factors working against it. Two other events were going on in town the same day, one of which was the State Fair in its final weekend. Why would anyone go to a State Fair when they can be going to a SQLSaturday? :) While the DBA in the family might have preferred the SQLSaturday, their family likely had other desires. The lesson here would be for event organizers to do more messaging the week before the event to make sure those who have made other plans opt out. A lot of people fear they are spamming the week before the event, but we’ve seen that the SQLSaturdays with lower percentages of no-shows are typically those that have done a lot of messaging those last few days. It really does help organizers get a more accurate headcount and keep costs down.
Something else to mention on the topic of competing activities in your area, especially since it has affected two recent events, is to be sure you check with your local Better Business Bureau (BBB) before locking in your date. The BBB should know in advance if any major events are happening in your city the same day you are looking to host your event.
Those who didn’t attend SQLSaturday #144 missed a great lineup of speakers, including a fantastic Women in Technology (WIT) lunch panel including PASS Board member Denise McInerney [b|t], PASS WIT Virtual Chapter leader Meredith Ryan of The Bell Group [b|t], Microsoft SQL Server MVP and author Kalen Delaney [b|t], Confio’s Janis Griffin, and Cal State’s Helen Norris. The event sponsors filled the entire hallway and then some, with Southwest PASS Regional Mentor Phil Robinson [b|l] helping me at the PASS table. Team organizer Mitch Bottel [b|t] scored SQLSaturday temporary tattoos at a great price for all the attendees - you know I had to sport one of those! The end-of-day raffle was in the back lobby area with plenty of room to spare, and the After Party was on the back deck at Chevy’s overlooking the Sacramento River, a perfect setting for an evening of networking.
The Sacramento team made its mark on the SQLSaturday map, hosting a very successful event. This makes two Northern California events in just 4 months and the attendance at both SQLSaturdays shows that this region is definitely hungering for more dedicated SQL Server training.